Paris in Pittsburgh

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Oh, a trip to Paris would be so nice.  Walking down the Champs Elysee, taking cheesy romantic pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, stopping for a light lunch at a cafe…

Alas, airfare to France is not in the budget right now.  But there’s surprisingly similar substitutes right here in our home of Pittsburgh.  If you let your imagination take over, you may  not even notice the difference.

Love Locks

I was enthralled with this post at Gone with the Family. It was the first place I learned about love locks, and she happened to find them all over Paris.  Lovers write their names on a lock, hook it onto the bridge, and then throw the key into the rivers.

So I was very excited when I came upon our very own love lock bridge in Pittsburgh.  While we don’t have a river beneath it (oh, irony of ironies,) this bridge in Schenley park near Phipp’s Conservatory (on Schenley Drive between the plaza and the conservatory) definitely gets the job done in the most Parisian of places:  a beautiful park.

1206 Northside-8

Market Square


Have you noticed Market Square and other parts of downtown have seen an increase in outdoor dining areas?  And extremely nice outdoor dining areas at that?  This is no accident.  Paris to Pittsburgh, an initiative funded by the Colcom foundation, provides business and property owners downtown with grants to make improvements to their building facades and outdoor dining areas.  The result?  A very Parisian dining experience; even if you’re eating Mexican. (More about the Paris to Pittsburgh program.)

Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History 22


There’s no shortage of museums in Pittsburgh.  Especially for art.  My favorite for a French experience is the Carnegie Museum of Art and History, though.  Why?  Because they have the art, like so many others in the area.  (Yeah, it’s not the Louvre, but it’s still a pretty fantastic collection.)  Also, in the Hall of Architecture there are impressive casts, not only of art, but also enormous, imposing doorways and front facades to historic French churches and buildings.  You can literally study every crack and crevice of these colossal structures without ever leaving the Burgh. (Don’t forget to bring your ID if you’re a student for a free or reduced price admission!)
Mmmm, French food.  While French dining may not be the most frugal option, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper than hopping on a plane.  A lot of the wait staff at Paris 66 Bistro in Shadyside actually speak French, Bridge Ten Brasserie in South Side is quickly gaining popularity for its authentic cuisine, and then there’s also Brasserie 33 in Shadyside.
So if you’re in Pittsburgh and bummed out because you can’t afford to get to France anytime soon, there’s a ton of opportunities for you to have a super romantic, incredibly convincing staycation right here in our hometown.  Bon voyage.

19 thoughts on “Paris in Pittsburgh

    1. femmefrugality

      I am, too! My fiance hates all things French, but I think it’s more of a “thing” now that he does to mess with me. Because I didn’t hear him complaining at the museum.

  1. Ms. S

    Ok, I’m gonna have to add Pittsburgh to the list. I’ve been once but it was a quick in an out trip and I didn’t really get to explore.

  2. Thomas | Your Daily Finance

    This is the side of Pittsburgh you never hear about. Not sure I could convince the wifey for a vacation there but it sure looks like we would have a good time. Maybe I could use these pictures and say would you like to go here. And if she says yes book tickets…hmmmm that might be get in a little trouble though. Cafes and dining just what the wifey ordered.

  3. Matt Becker

    I visited Pittsburgh a few years ago and was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. Very pretty city with a lot to do. I would definitely like to go back some day, though I have to say I still might choose Paris all things being equal!

  4. Mom @ Three is Plenty

    Dad and I went to Habitat (in the new Fairmont) this weekend for date night, and while I drug him out to Point State Park for a walk, we stumbled through market square. That used to be a sketchy part of town! (OK, 10-15 years ago anyway…) It’s nice to see the city reviving with South Side Works and Market Square (and the Waterfront somewhat). Now that I know we can dine al fresco in Market Square, I’m likely to get reservations there next time we’re in the city!

    1. femmefrugality

      Absolutely! I’m still a bit nervous about South Side at night; drunken idiots and the police station moved up to Arlington a couple of years ago hasn’t been a great combination, but SS Works is pretty nice relatively!

  5. Pingback: Why The Chinese Zodiac is Important to Your Wallet | Femme Frugality

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